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Constant Fear


Constant Fear

Here’s a blurb for you: With CONSTANT FEAR, Daniel Palmer becomes solidly ensconced in the firmament of the thriller genre. That pretty much says it all. Palmer, who came out of the gate seemingly incapable of writing badly, hits and exceeds his own high water mark with his latest book, which has everything one could want in a thriller: explosives, gunfire, action, danger and, at the heart of it all, a nagging mystery.

CONSTANT FEAR primarily takes place in a large part of the small town of Winston, Massachusetts. The large part, if you will, is Pepperell Academy, a very expensive private secondary school that teaches the offspring of the (mostly) rich and famous. The reason that such an otherwise sedate establishment becomes the setting for a nerve-wracking chain of events is down to a group of six students at the school who call themselves the Shire.

The be-all and end-all of the students, surrounded by wealth and all of its trappings, is to use computer savvy and know-how to steal from the rich --- primarily the parents of their fellow students --- and give to the poor, all within the wide open wild west universe of cyberspace. The Shire mostly limits themselves to sums equal to a thousand dollars or so, which, in the rarefied air of the Massachusetts wealthy, is the equivalent of restaurant drive-through change found under the driver’s seat floor mat. Their thefts are successful because they are all but ignored by their victims.

"CONSTANT FEAR is being published as summer approaches, but it is a thriller for all seasons.... It’s a wild night’s ride, for sure, one that you’ll think of the next time you walk the halls of a school and see a bunch of unmarked, locked doors."

However, the Shire gets crossed up when they go for some very big money from the worst possible target. Two hundred million dollars (or its equivalent) will attract anyone’s notice, and when the money is stolen from the Bitcoin account of the head of a Mexican drug cartel, one can smell the scorched earth between Ciudad Juárez and Massachusetts before the first match is struck. The Shire has made two mistakes: they become so complacent in their practice that they don’t completely cover their tracks, and they consider themselves so secure that the money they stole is taken from them.

So it happens that when the stone cold killers sent to retrieve the money come calling to Pepperell Academy on a fateful school day just before holiday break, the members of the Shire can’t return the money, as much as they might desperately wish to do so. The retrievers, of course, don’t believe them and are determined to obtain information concerning the whereabouts of the missing money --- information that the Shire does not have --- by any means necessary.

Only one man stands between the killers and the Shire. His name is Jake Dent, and he is the father of Andy, one of the members of the Shire. Jake, who has faced loss and ruin before, has spent years preparing for disaster. When it suddenly strikes, he is ready, even though the odds from within and without seem insurmountable. And the question remains: If the Shire doesn’t have the money, then who does?

CONSTANT FEAR is being published as summer approaches, but it is a thriller for all seasons. Palmer does his homework, and if one needs a checklist of what to get and do to be at least nominally ready if and when things go sideways, you can find it tucked away inside these pages in the midst of the explosions, mayhem and hand-to-hand combat that pop up regularly in the narrative. The book is not a manual, though, but a pitch-perfectly paced adventure that takes a recurrent thriller theme and turns it inside out: rather than trying to get out of a situation, Jake attempts to get into one, at least at first.

It’s a wild night’s ride, for sure, one that you’ll think of the next time you walk the halls of a school and see a bunch of unmarked, locked doors. You’ll also learn a bit about bitcoins and some other things, enough so that you’ll want to check up on what your teenager is doing online --- sooner rather than later. CONSTANT FEAR is well-titled, well-researched, well-plotted and well-written. Don’t miss it.

Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub on May 29, 2015

Constant Fear
by D.J. Palmer

  • Publication Date: April 26, 2016
  • Genres: Fiction, Suspense, Thriller
  • Mass Market Paperback: 416 pages
  • Publisher: Pinnacle
  • ISBN-10: 0786033835
  • ISBN-13: 9780786033836